From Egypt with Love: Coptic Retreat Centre
It’s been a busy month. We took our family on our autumn visit to the Coptic retreat centre, Anafora. This is a wonderful family friendly, ecumenical monastic community. All the food is grown on their own property. They of course do lots of crafts, have two impressively painted churches, have a pool and trampoline for the kids, a petting zoo (see pic), and have nightly prayers led by the community. It simply has the best of what the Coptic church has to offer in Egypt, and anyone who comes to visit should definitely check it out. It lay halfway between Cairo and Alexandria in the Wadi Al Natrun region where there are several other ancient monasteries.
The most famous one, of course, is the monastery of Saint Macarius, where the well-known Coptic Monk and theologian Matthew the poor recently resided. The Papel residence is at Saint Bishoy‘s, which has two ancient monasteries, including the monastery of the Syrians (see picture of the fresco above). The priests of the diocese recently had our retreat there - including priests from the country of Chad who recently came under the jurisdiction of Archbishop Samy. Again, amazing locally grown food, an impressive papal library (unfortunately I could not visit), but also a soccer field and a few other shops.
The Anglican communion‘s dialogue with the Coptic church released a new statement last summer that advances our theological understanding of each other. Our own bishop, Anthony Ball was on that commission. He will soon take authority over a new north African Diocese in our province. Two other bishops will soon be sent to the horn of Africa and the Gambella region, thank God!
As for our family, we are busy with school fundraiser runs - thankfully the temperature recently dropped. Jenn is finally feeling better now that the first trimester has passed. Meanwhile, my systematic theology course has gone well (see picture). And, finally, our seminary passed our accreditation visit. So all the work last year on the application was worth it!
We have friends who lead Samaritan’s Purse in the region, and we ask your prayers for their work in Gaza where they are trying to rescue the 800 remaining Christians. Prayers are requested!
Jeff and Jenn